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Honduras: Journalist Pursued And Repeatedly Threatened

The Committee for Missing and Detained Persons in Honduras (Cofadeh), has expressed it’s concern for the security and wellbeing of Gilda Carolina Silvestrucchi, Journalist and Director for the past 10 and a half years of the Radio Program ‘En la Plaza’, who has been the victim of grave threats on her life, and on the lives of her small children.

On January 3 2012, Silvestrucchi was pursued, while driving to work, by a red Honda Civic, this occured over an extended period, until her driver managed to get away from the car in pursuit.

On January 20, 2012, her Mother received a call from an unidentified male requesting information on Gilda Carolina Silvestrucchi’s routine, including information on what time she arrived home, what she did during the day and where she could be located. Given the requests of the unknown man it became clear that he wanted to know the exact time in which he would find Silvestrucchi in her home.

At 9:30 am on the 23rd of January 2012, Silvestrucchi received around five calls from the phone number 94 83 42 03, the first question asked by the unknown man was whether she was the owner of the cell phone. She could hear the sound of cars going by in the background and then he said “I know that you have three children, that the eldest is fifteen, and that your 7 year old son is walking down the road and that the eldest is in the house, looking after the one year old, and we are coming to kill you”. It seemed as though the unknown caller was reading from a text.

Having hung up the phone with the unknown caller, Gilda spoke with her youngest daughter who informed her that an unknown caller had rung and asked for her under the premise of delivering her some papers. Following this, the unknown caller rang Gilda’s daughter on two more occasions.

On this same day, Gilda Silvestrucchi interviewed two people on her program, Luis Alfonso Santos and Pedro Landa, who spoke about the problem of the mining industry in the Valle de Siria and the actions of representatives relating to application of the new Mining Law.

Freedom of expression, the right of society to be informed without intimidation and threats from political powers, is a right consecrated within International Law and Human Rights Law, as well as in the Honduran constitution. Crimes against journalists and a heightening of violence against freedom of expression, in all parts of the country, has reached an intolerable level never before seen in Honduras. From 2009 to today 18 journalists have been assassinated, 25 have received death threats, 14 have suffered illegal detention, 4 have been kidnapped and subjected to torture, and 37 have suffered some form of aggression.

In Honduras many structures restrict freedom of expression, this exists across the country, the worst restrictions coming from political censorship and organised crime. This climate has seen Journalists forced to censor themselves in order to protect themselves, in the face of a lack of any Government action to impose sanctions on those carrying out crimes on Journalists. This would set an example and promote freedom of expression in Honduras.

COFADEH calls on the Nation and the International Community to:

Publically condemn the intimidation of Journalists and to demand that the Honduran Government takes action to protect the members of this profession.
Call for an immediate provision of protection to Gilda Carolin Silvestrucchi and her family, especially for her young children.
Call for urgent, impartial and exhaustive investigation into the risks faced by Gilda Silvestrucchi, into the murders of the 18 Journalists and the threats that others have received. The results of the investigation must be made public and those found accountable must be punished.
Demand that all protections dictated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights be provided to Journalists in Honduras.

Please forward all calls, concerns and demands to:

Jorge Alberto Rivera AvilÃs
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Tel (504) 2269-3000 2269-3069

Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax (504) 2221-5667
Tel (504) 2221-5670 2221-3099

With a copy to:

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)

Barrio La Plazuela , Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301

Apartado Postal 1243

Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS

Fax:+504 2220 1528


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